Drama as Offroad Racers Do Battle in Heat & Dust at Feilding
Drama as Offroad Racers Do Battle in Heat and Dust at Feilding
Drivers banged wheels in spectacular fashion as the 2014 offroad racing national championship got underway in Feilding on Sunday, with Whakatane’s Malcolm Langley scoring a hard-fought fastest time of the day in competition for the ‘unlimited’ premium-class race cars.
Though he eventually finished second in class, Langley also satisfied a long held ambition to beat his arch-rival Tony McCall in a flag to flag duel between his Mitsubishi Evo-powered car and McCall’s BSL Terra Chev, a classic battle between turbocharged four cylinder power and the massive torque of a V8 Chev LS1 engine.
Palmerston North Off Road Club’s track had been graded and the jumps modified specially for the event and tens of thousands of litres of water had been pumped onto the track in the days before the racing, though the hot dry conditions ensured dust was an issue as the day went on and the all-in feature race was abandoned on safety grounds.
Class one for open-wheel race cars was a hard-fought battle with Malcolm Langley getting the best of Tony McCall on the last lap of heat one and McCall fighting back to turn the tables in the next heat and again in the final heat of the day. Thatfirst heat was initially led by Richard Crabb, navigated by Tanya Delahunty in Big Trouble, his Chenowth Eagle V6. The race was red flagged on the opening lap due to a dust hazard and the track re-watered, and when the cars restarted Tony McCall took the early lead. On the last lap, Langley took a gap left open by Tony on the ‘tree stump’ hairpin, forcing Tony to swing wide and leaving Langley a clear run to the chequered flag.
Manukau-based McCall leads the class with 52 points, Langley close behind on 50 and Gregg Carrington-Hogg third in his Shores Chev on 39. Eight of the spectacular unlimited-class cars contested the first round.
The class nine cars – Baja bug and production-silhouette racers – were run in the same heats as class one. Maurice Bain was the only class nine entry and cruised to a maximum points tally of 52 with three unchallenged finishes.
In class three for .16-litre race cars Hawkes Bay’s Dean Graham, making a step up from the 1.3-litre class five cars he has campaigned for many years – scored a clean sweep of wins.
Wellington driver Alistair Manning likewise dominated class five with three wins and maximum points of 54 ahead of Taine Carrington and Nick Magness. Ivan Booth went out with smashed front suspension.
Class seven, long regarded the sport’s entry class, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over recent championship seasons. Four class seven race cars entered the event, with rising star Dyson Delahunty of Mount Maunganui taking three wins from three starts to score maximum points. This follows on from his class win in the recent Counties Classic series, showing he is going from strength to strength as he gets more seat time. Tyler Castle and Ollie McCall battled it out for the minor placings. Castle finished second overall, with McCall dropping points in race two when he got stranded going too wide on an infield hairpin.
In the seven-strong Challenger VW class, Wayne Rowe took two wins but was unable to match the consistency of Peter May, who put together two second placings and a win to take top points in the class. May and Campbell Witheford were the only racers who completed all three heats, which elevated Witheford to second at the end of the day’s racing.
In the truck classes, Wellington’s Justin Leonard emerged the winner of the unlimited class 8 field in his American-built rear wheel drive Chev truck with wins in the second and third heats and third place in the first, which was won by local racer Martin van der Wal. Rotorua driver Mike Cox was third in his Prolite Toyota Chev. Cox, the only entry in a Pro Lite class 8, found his truck handling the jumps well but lacking traction in the tighter corners. He also experienced a bizarre stoppage in heat two when his truck cut out and wouldn’t restart. He found that he had flicked off the master ignition switch mid-corner.
Leonard and van der Wal shared top points on 50.
The class four field for improved sport trucks saw a pitched battle between Te Puke’s Rex Croskery and Wellington racer GlennTurvey, both in Toyota Hiluxes. Croskery won the first heat, Turvey the next two but a DNF in heat one cost Turvey valuable points and allowed Croskery to take the class win and 50 points.
There were no production class truck entries.
Ben Thomasen of Tauranga was the clear winner in the new UTV class, taking three wins and a maximum 54 points ahead of Paeroa’s Mike Small who had been forced to run a borrowed Polaris 900 after his new RZR 1000 had mechanical issues just days out from the event. Tony Radisich was third in another RZR 1000, held out by a determined drive from Small in his RZR 900. It was Thomasen’s first race outing in his new Polaris RZR 1000.
The youth classes for “J” and “M” class Kiwitrucks were won by Marcus Runciman (J) and Fergus Crabb (M).
Fastest time of the day fell to Whakatane’s Malcolm Langley in his Bakersfield-designed Evo single-seater class one car with a 1:07.699 for the 1.35 km course.